A coveted position to be in

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South Middle School chorus earns big performance

By Reece Murphy

South Middle School’s standout eighth-grade chorus is heading to Myrtle Beach this weekend for a special performance during the S.C. Middle School Association annual conference.

SMS Choral Director Dr. Leigh Ann Lilly said the chorus, known as the South Singers, were selected by audition from a field of more than 40 middle school choruses from across the state.

“We were selected to entertain at the opening session,” Lilly said. “This is probably the biggest honor that a middle school choral group could have in the state of South Carolina.

“It’s a highly esteemed place to perform because it’s such a coveted position to be in,” she said.

Lilly said while she and the chorus’ 64 students were thrilled to learn they’d been selected to perform, the honor wasn’t entirely unexpected since she knew within the first six weeks of their sixth-grade year they were catching on faster than usual.

Lilly said this particular group of students – many of whom have performed together for the last three years – have always been exceptional, excelling at everything from sight reading music and ear training to discipline and pure love of singing.

The group, she said, has always worked as a team and has never been afraid to make mistakes, a rare trait among the age group that allows them to give their all during a performance.

“They have always been full of personality,” Lilly said. “They have superior attitudes that leads to superior performances.”

‘More than a class’

Speaking with South Singers Sebastian Tarque and Jada Hood, it becomes immediately obvious Lilly isn’t just offering empty glowing praise for her choir.

Sebastian, who also plays on the soccer team, said what he likes most about the chorus is that it is so much like a team with all of the members working toward the common goal of being the best.

“It’s not really like any other class because everybody in the class knows each other and knows each other well,” Sebastian said. “It’s nice to be around others who feel the same way (about music). We read each other really well.

“I hope we get recognized for how good we actually are,” he said.

Jada said she wasn’t surprised at all that they got accepted to perform.

“Well, not to sound cocky, but I think we had it in the bag the whole time,” she said. “It’s not just something we do, it’s part of who we are and how we express ourselves and our feelings.

“We all have different personalities, but it’s like when our personalities come together, we’re a powerful force and nothing can stop us,” she said.

Lilly said it’s that kind of attitude that has helped the South Singers earn a spot in this spring’s Southern Star Music Festival at Atlanta’s Six Flags over Georgia.

But right now, Lilly said, the group is focusing on Saturday’s performance, which she said “is not going to be a stuffy old language set.”

Lilly said the chorus will beign the performance with a patriotic rendition of “Land of the Free,” followed by “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent before wrapping it up with something really special.

“We hope to have them on their feet by then,” Lilly said of the audience, “and we’re going to close with our version of Bobby McFerrin’s ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’; or rather our version with all our crazy moves and signs and stuff.

“Our goal for this performance is to have all these people, these principals, these educators, all the thousands of people in the audience walking out of that ballroom humming our tunes,” she said.


Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151